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Soy Protein fights belly fat??

Posted by Joel Marion

So, here’s a little tid-bid of info that you may not know: 

I subscribe to just about every mainstream fitness magazine available.

Why?  Well, when you have a career in health and fitness, you want to pay attention to what is being talked about in the media, particularly what topics are “hot” amongst other fitness “news” outlets.

And although most articles suck, browsing through a magazine generally gives me at least one idea of something to blog about or write to you about in my newsletter.

Well, tonight’s browsing session was no different.  As I sat here and thumbed through the pages of a rather prominent women’s fitness magazine, I come across this gem of a paragraph:

“Several studies have shown that people who regularly consume soy protein tend to weigh less and have less abdominal fat those who don’t.  The key compounds are the soy isoflavones: These estrogen-like substances not only fight belly fat, but they also protect against the development of breast cancer.”

Um, no.

Here we have an article crediting estrongen-like soy isoflavones for decreased belly fat.  Huh?  Since when do estrogenic compounds decrease belly fat?  Since never, because they actually increase it, and the isoflavones are the exact reason you shouldn’t be eating soy on a regular basis.

And as far as soy protecting against breast cancer, it’s pretty well established that increased exposure to estrogen increases the risk of breast cancer.  And there are MANY studies showing that genistein, the main isoflavone found in soybeans, stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells and tumor growth.

Here are just a few:

Zava DT, Duwe G. Estrogenic and antiproliferative properties of genistein and other flavonoids in human breast cancer cells in vitro. Nutr Cancer 1997; 27: 31-40.

Hsieh CY, Santell RC, Haslam SZ, Helferich WG. Estrogenic effects of genistein on the growth of estrogen receptor- positive human breast cancer (mcf-7) cells in vitro and in vivo. Cancer Res. 1998;58: 3833-3838.

Allred CD, Allred KF, Ju YH, Virant SM., Helferich WG. Soy diets containing varying amounts of genistein stimulate growth of estrogen-dependent (mcf-7) tumors in a dose-dependent manner. Cancer Res. 2001;61: 5045-5050.

Petrakis NL, Barnes S, King EB, Lowenstein J, Wiencke J, Lee MM., Miike R, Kirk M, Coward L. Stimulatory influence of soy protein isolate on breast secretion in pre- and postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1996;5: 785- 794.

McMichael-Phillips DF, Harding C, Morton M, Roberts SA, Howell A, Potten CS, Bundred NJ. Effects of soy-protein supplementation on epithelial proliferation in the histologically normal human breast. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998;68: 1431S-1435S.

So where did the author of this article get their information?  I don’t know, since there were no sources listed (surprise, surprise).

I shared the article with my buddy Mike Geary, and he immediately replied with “No wonder why so many people are confused out there!  So many bad sources of information.”

And that’s incredibly true…and sad…because the misinformation really has crippled America’s health.

Well, fortunately, there’s guys like me and Mike, and gals like Isabel De Los Rios to help set the record straight and help clear the cloud of misinformation that fogs up the airwaves each and every day.

Make no mistake, soy is one of the foods you should be AVOIDING if your goal is decreased abdominal fat and increased health and longevity.  If you want to educate yourself on quite a few other so-called “healthy” foods that are anything but, then I highly recommend you check out Isabel’s video here:

Knowledge is power…your friend,



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94 comments - add yours
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Dunja wrote:

@ shira:
How about lentils and all the other beans (apart from soy beans if you are really sure they are unhealthy) ;)

Beans and legumes are great.

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?? wrote:

OMG… I’m just confused after reading all of the above!!!

Not sure why you are confused…I pretty much clarified everything with factual information.

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The worst part about soy is that 90% of all soy grown here in North America is Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Soy. This type of soy has had the active ingredient from Monsanto’s Round Up weed killer (Glysophate) spliced into the DNA of the soy bean plant. There has been ZERO long term studies done on the safety of consumption of these GMO’s. That is reason enough not to use soy. Here is a great lecture by Jeffery Smith called The Health Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods and their cover ups. I highly recommend everyone watches this and researches GMO’s as over 90% of all processed foods contain unlabeled GMO ingredients.

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@ Michelle:

Every thing we put into our bodies has pro’s and con’s. Just because there ARE benefits of eating soy, doesn’t mean THOSE particular benefits outweigh the negative effects of eating it.

Am I biased? Yes I am. Why? Because I developed an allergy to soy about 4-5 years ago. I’m sure it can be to blame for a part of my weight issue as a child considering I ate alot of soy products, or foods that had soy in them.

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@ Harry:

If your trying to fight belly fat, avoid dairy and DO NOT consume any milk alternatives. It’s liquid calories injected straight to your gut.

All of those milk alternatives contain sweeteners and refined carbohydrates.

Bovine dairy from a macronutrient perspective is actually decently healthy, the reason it CAN make you fat, is because it causes a dramatic spike of insulin, particularly due to a chemical called Insulin-Like Growth Factor Type 1, or IGF-1 for short. This chemical is molecularly identical between bovines and humans, which is why it has such a dramatic effect on us. People attempting to gain large amounts of muscle can benefit from this. People looking to drop fat percentage may want to abstain from it.

None of the alternative milks provide a proper ratio of nutrition however, and are almost entirely fortified with junk vitamins.

Just drink water, tea, and non-sweetened coffee if you like. Have a day during the week where you allow yourself to drink whatever you like, and then 5-6 days a week, stay on the water and tea.

Belly fat is connected with adrenal disfunction so you should look into doing a 5/5 cadence when your lifting weights to increase fat fighting and stress reducing hormones.

I’m NOT an expert, but I learn from them. If your interested in anything I just said, please take the time to research for yourself and see what your best options are. But truly, when you cut all liquids that arent water or tea from your diet, your bound to drop some gut.


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Totally agree. Several years ago I was told that soy was healthy…I basically lived on soy: soy milk, yogurt,tofu.This combined with birth control pills – I ended up the fattest I have ever been:(

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You have just MASSIVELY increased your credibility with me Joel. ;) The only way soy is beneficial to us is in its fermented form, the way people eat it in Asia i.e. miso, tempeh, etc. Processed soy flours, milks, and other soy products are not only cancerous, they were not meant to be digested by our bodies. Read The Whole Soy Story to see what I am talking about. The soy dump in our markets is really just a cheap way for corporations to make a fat profit on this inferior protein source, most of it is genetically modified too!

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Your blog is a breath of fresh air!!! I really appreciate the fact that you do something so few others do when hearing “something new”.

You ask, “Where’s the research? Where did this information come from?” The amount of BS out there is frightening. What people will believe from a person just because they have an MD, PhD, or other degree is amazing. Show me a study and show me a publication in a respectable journal where science rules and not nonsense.

Keep up the good work, sorry for the fake ID, I have a PhD and need anonimity ;-)

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As others have said, isolated compounds administered in biologically improbable doses to poor lab animals will produce different outcomes in the same way that consuming unbalanced amounts of any vitamin or amino acid will play havoc with human health.

Here’s a review study that verifies several anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer effects of the whole compound:-

(‘Isoflavones are safe compounds for therapeutical applications – evaluation of in vitro data’ Gynecol Endocrinol. 2009 Sep;25(9):554-80.)

“Isoflavone-rich food and food supplements have gained increasing popularity also in the Western world. Their weak estrogenic effect has been considered as a potential risk, although all epidemiological studies and clinical trials show a significant cancer protection and decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In vitro data suggest that the concerted action of the isoflavones and their metabolites show antiproliferative behaviour, reduce angiogenesis, reduce tumor progression and exert antiinflammatory effects. For the evaluation of the biological effects, special emphasis has to be put on the concerted action between the isoflavones and their metabolites. For instance, while isolated genistein shows some growth promoting effect at low concentrations, the metabolite equol or soy extract show growth retardation as well as higher concentrations of genistein do.

The beneficial effect on metabolic diseases and weight reduction by isoflavone consumption can be partly explained by its affinity for the PPAR family. In light of the in vitro experiments, together with the epidemiological observations and the clinical experience, isoflavones can be considered as safe compounds.”

There are also an increasing number of studies identifying more precisely, the biochemical mechanisms by which the isoflavones work on receptors. In biochemistry, the detail makes all the difference.

Here’s a good current review: (“The Biochemistry, Chemistry and Physiology of the Isoflavones in Soybeans and their Food Products” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883528/?tool=pubmed).

By all means avoid soy, if you have observed unfavourable outcomes on your body. However, at an epidemiological level, (taking into account study populations from the west & east), the evidence to date establishes that the whole soy compound has many benefits to health.

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What about eating edamame? I’ve been wondering about that…

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Thank you for sharing this information! So many people must be confused & doing the wrong thing thinking they are helping their health. I hope the magazine that published that article was contacted & is forced to print a correction. Misinformation like that could really be damaging.

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Love this blog entry!

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thank you for your supported info…. i told this since 6 monyhs but no ones believed me…. and now yu have so interesting link to refer it, and to help me to support this fact!!!! :P

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I can’t eat eggs- so I have recently just learned how to make soy tofu eggs for breakfast i just use the soy and some tumeric and pepper– It is super challenging to eat a high protein diet when you can not eat eggs. Any suggestions then other than cottage cheese for breakfast????

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So how come the Japanese are not fat and don’t have a particularly high level of breast cancer? The only time I eat tofu is when I go to Japan.

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@ Anto:
This is all really ridiculous. Soy doesn’t do contain estrogen. There is a big difference between the compounds found in plants and human estrogen.

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If you refer to the studies I have cited, there is more reputable scientific evidence in support of the benefits of soy as a whole compound than there is for some of the claims made against soy.

I have no interest in promoting soy but the disregard for the most reliable scientific information drives me a little crazy.

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For whatever reason, the numbers are messed up on this blog

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